The proposed two-paise increase per kilometre of suburban fares may be one of the downsides of the Railway Budget presented on Wednesday, but the lay commuter doesn't seem to be unduly worried about it.

Officials of Southern Railways, on the other hand, say they are yet to get a clear picture of the fare-calculation. S. Anantharaman, Divisional Railway Manager, Chennai, said they are yet to receive the worksheet of the fare hike for calculating the ticket price for suburban commuters.

Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi stated in the budget that the corresponding rationalisation in minimum distance has been proposed taking into consideration the problems faced by passengers with regard to non-availability of small denominations. This causes not only hardship to passengers who have to forego the change due to them but also delays ticket-dispensing. Taking into consideration a rounding-off mechanism, a fare structure has been worked out, he said.

For example, where a fare works out to Rs.11, it would be rounded off to Rs. 10. Similarly, for Rs. 6 it would become Rs. 5. But the minimum fare chargeable and the platform ticket will now cost Rs. 5. The current fare for a 69-kilometre journey between Chennai Central and Arakkonam is Rs. 14; but now, with the hike of Rs. 1.38, it would be rounded to Rs. 15. Members of various associations also feel if the increase is below 10 per cent, nobody should have a reason to complain.

K.S. Anandavel, who commutes between Mandaveli and Beach station everyday, says when compared to the bus fares, the increase in train fare is minimal for him. “Even if my monthly season pass is to cost me Rs. 30-40 more, I have little reason to complain because when travelling in a deluxe bus, I pay Rs. 7 to get down at the next stop,” says the car driver.